In recently blogs you may have noticed tips credited to “reader Annie.” This is my new code word for tips that are submitted anonymously. Two syllables flow much better than five. So if you submit an Earth-shattering anonymous tip and discover that Annie gets all the credit, rest assured it’s really you.

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Word on the street is that Trader Joe’s at 5767 Calle Real in Goleta may take over the space currently occupied by the hair salon and pet store next door. I am told that it won’t result in a much bigger store but will allow for more storage.

Update: Here is a message from the neighboring hair salon:

This is Cutting Edge. Your rumor machine doesn’t have the facts. Trader Joe’s has proposed an expansion however we have nothing signed. We are moving ONE space down in the shopping center and are NOT going out of business. As for us and the Pet House business is better than ever and we plan on keeping it that way. Please make sure you are informed before make assumptions.



Nuance restaurant which opened last April at 119 State Street has gone out of business. I called the eatery and was told they shut their doors for the final time on Tuesday, January 12th.




Readers Annie and Brendan let me know that Giovanni’s Pizza at 6583 Pardall Road in Isla Vista is closing this week. Here is a message on Isla Vista Giovanni’s Facebook page:

Hey guys! For those that don’t know me, they call me Boss, or Matt. I’ve owned Gio’s for last 7 years. We lost the lease to the building and Gio’s will be closing at the end of business this Thursday 1/14. I appreciate every customer, every interaction, and everything Isla Vista’s done for this place and for me! Come by and say hi, grab a slice, or let’s have a beer! Let’s go out like we always do here! Let’s make the next 3 nights amazing!



I called Milpas Trader Joe’s and found out that Trader Joe’s is indeed interested in 222 North Milpas Street, the space once occupied by Scolari’s and Fresh Market. The representative told me that if Trader Joe’s does decide to move it won’t be any time soon – the end of the year or sometime in 2017 at the earliest.



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Nectar Eatery & Lounge, the new restaurant/bar at 20 East Cota Street (formerly Blue Agave), has announced that its grand opening will be held on Wednesday, January 20th.  Starting at 4:45 p.m. with a ribbon cutting, Nectar will be serving up its full menu of globally-inspired ethnic dishes along with local wines and craft cocktails (plus a large tequila list). RVSP to

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I am told that Pascucci Goleta, coming soon to 6920 Marketplace Drive in Goleta (formerly Holdren’s Grill), hopes to open the first week of February.

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This just in from Globe restaurant:

“Hi John, We are excited to be celebrating our 5  month anniversary at Globe, a small plates lounge located at 18 East Cota Street…small plates from all over the world, ($10 and under) in a unique comfy atmosphere. For the months of January & February, we will be offering drink 5-5-5-5 specials, with purchase of any small plates. $5 house red & white wines, well cocktails & draft beer for 5 hours, 5 nights a week. Tuesday , Wednesday, Thursday,  Friday & Sunday 5-close. Also, we’ve had so many requests to open for lunch, so we are going to start opening for lunch on Saturdays & Sundays, starting next weekend. Thanks for getting the word out! Laura Knight & Gerry Cruz”

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Readers on Edhat claim to have inside knowledge that Trader Joe’s at 29 South Milpas Street is moving to 222 North Milpas Street, the former home of Fresh  Market.



Reader Scott let me know that bakery chain Nothing Bundt Cakes will be opening soon at 5784 Calle Real in Goleta near El Pollo Loco. Founders Debra Shwetz and Dena Tripp started Nothing Bundt Cakes in Las Vegas in 1997 and have since opened 154 franchises coast to coast and have another 14 locations on the way. Visit



In July Fresco Cafe North at 5940 Calle Real in Goleta transitioned to The Fig Grill under  the same ownership. In early December readers told me that a for-lease sign appeared in front of the building. Around Christmas time I spotted a sign on the front door indicating that The Fig Grill was temporarily closed and will reopen in January. Readers informed me that a new sign in the front door appeared this week:

“The Fig Grill. Dear customers and friends. Sadly, we have to close permanently at this location. We sincerely thank you for your loyal patronage over the years and will miss all of you. Indras and staff”

Thank you to readers Annie, Anita, JoAnn, Patrick, Gordon and Matt for the tips.

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Though Haggen originally reported that it would be replaced by Roxy’s Market at 2010 Cliff Drive, reader Jim tells me that The Mesa Paper stated that landlord Investec has confirmed that Vons has acquired the grocery lease for the Mesa Center.



Five years ago this week (January 6, 2011) a new Restaurant Guy blog was launched that I built from scratch using Word Press, after much pleading from reader Lemonjelly, and others, for me to upgrade it. As of that day, for the first time, this blog included the ability to post comments, and offered RSS and an email list, and started being simulcast on Twitter. During the preceding 4 years The Restaurant Guy was just one long, never-ending page where I blabbed about the local restaurant scene and you were in complete silence. Though I get beaten up from time to time, the blog is much better now that you have a voice. I find that the comments, which total 11,338 as of this writing, are usually more informative than the stuff I write.



Chef Robbie Wilson and wife Emily Perry Wilson have been running Mattei’s Tavern Restaurant since 2013 and will close the business January 31 due to construction at the Tavern and will re-open with the new resort in spring 2018. After January, the Wilsons will focus on their newly opened Palo Alto restaurant named Bird Dog where they hope to place existing staff and see their Mattei’s Tavern regulars on future visits to Silicon Valley.



This just in from reader Jim:

Drove by Tacos El Rey at 5 West Haley at State and it is gone. Looked like construction going on. Loved their tacos and Agua Fresca.


Tacos El Rey opened in August 2014, replacing Magic Pita Cafe, which replaced Greek House Cafe.



Union Ale at 214 State Street has closed. The business opened in August, 2009. Word on the street is that they are changing new concept to Asian/American food. The name suposedly will be called Yankee Noodle and the new business should open in about 2 weeks.



Readers Mike, James, Jeffrey, Annie, and Don let me know that local institution Creekside Bar & Grill at 4444 Hollister Avenue in Noleta is now known as Boondocks. Why someone would discard the name of one of Santa Barbara’s most famous bars is beyond me.

Boondocks offers tacos (carnitas $6.95, habenero pork $6.95, pastrami $7.95, chorizo $7.95, shrimp $9.95, seared ahi tuna $10.95, and veggie burger tacos $10.95), burgers & fries (bacon bleu $14.95, classic cheeseburger $12.95, pastrami $12.95, chicken marsala $13.95, seaed ahi $14.95, and veggie $13.95) and assorted bites (fries $3.95, kale chips $6.95, Brussels sprouts $5.95, classic sliders $9.95, habanero pork sliders $8.95, blind dates $7.95, and wedge salad $9.95). Desserts include flourless chocolate torte $8 and chocolate chip cookie pie $8.

Bar hours: Mon-Sat 4pm-close, Kitchen Hours : 5pm-9pm. Closed Sundays. Call 964-5118.

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Reader Steve let me know that a sign for a restaurant named Chalet Shaker has appeared on the window at 416 State Street, the former home of 416 State, Killer Shrimp and Sharkeez.

Photo by reader Steve



Early last year Vons Market at 163 South Turnpike Road bumped its head, fell unconscious and was sucked up by the tornado that is Haggen Food & Pharmacy, received lots of bad publicity, and lost customers in droves. Fortunately there is no place like home and Vons has woken up and will reopen its doors shortly. It was all just a dream.




Rusty’s Pizza at 6025 Calle Real in Goleta has closed and a new location will open later this month just down the street at 5934 Calle Real, the former home of Takenoya, which is in the final stages of construction.

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MY FOODIE DUTIES for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2015 there were 55 openings and 57 closings of food and drink venues across the South Coast. The most openings were in April & June (7) while the most closings were in June (6). 2015 saw both the most openings and closings in a calendar year since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007. Only one other year (2011) saw the number of closings exceed the number of openings.

FOOD NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR: Without a doubt the biggest local food news story of 2015 was the opening of and quick implosion of Haggen Food & Pharmacy. In June Haggen opened at 3943 State Street, 2010 Cliff Drive, 163 South Turnpike Road, Goleta, 165 North Fairview Avenue, Goleta, and 850 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria, replacing Vons and Albertsons. Public displeasure with prices, firings and a variety of other issues, combined the Haggen’s bankruptcy filing 3 months later, gives Haggen the award for “Fiasco of the Year.” Fortunately Haggen will be replaced by Albertsons (or possibly Vons), Roxy’s Market/SB Grocery, Smart & Final, and possibly Sprouts Farmers Market.

FLASH IN THE PAN: Eateries that both opened and closed in 2015: Sublime, 901 N. Milpas Street, Las Brasas Mexican Grill, 5915B Calle Real, Goleta, and Crushcakes & Café, 1150 Coast Village Rd, Montecito.

FALLEN ICONS: Santa Barbara lost two long-time local eateries: Esau’s Café, 721 Chapala Street which has been open in the downtown area since 1961, and Sojourner Café, 134 East Canon Perdido Street, serving hungry customers since 1978. Speaking of icons, the Summerland space occupied for decades by The Big Yellow House, which has been closed for years, will reopen as Pace restaurant in 2016.

MOST POPULAR STORIES: Based on the stats for the blog that accompanies this column, these are The Restaurant Guy’s top-50 most-read stories of 2015:

  • Goleta’s Historic Timbers Restaurant To Reopen, 7,736 views
  • The Honor Bar Opens In Montecito, 7,119 views
  • High Sierra Grill House To Replace Ebar, 6,707 views
  • Lure Fish House Opens Tuesday, December 29th, 6,416 views
  • Marmalade Cafe Closes, 5,599 views
  • Sachi Ramen To Open Downtown, 5,578 views
  • Yume Sushi Opens On Chapala, 5,186 views
  • The Fig Grill Opening In Goleta, 5,109 views
  • Sublime Opens On Milpas, 5,070 views
  • Yoichi’s Opening On Victoria Street, 5,029 views
  • SB Public Market Loses Two Tenants, 4,984 views
  • Nugget To Open Downtown, 4,975 views
  • Wildwood Kitchen Coming To Haley Street, 4,943 views
  • Gone With The Wind – Esau’s Closes, 4,333 views
  • Sojourner Café Closes, 4,324
  • High Sierra Grill & Bar Opens, 4,136 views
  • Pascucci Returning To Camino Real Marketplace, 4,062 views
  • The Little Door To Open Downtown, 4,020 views
  • Pizza Hut Coming To Goleta, 3,992 views
  • Downtown Panera Bread Closes, 3,824 views
  • Lure Fish House Construction Update, 3,817 views
  • Brasil Arts Café Asks For Your Support, 3,815 views
  • Farmer Boy Opens, 3,683 views
  • Nuance Opens In The Funk Zone, 3,676 views
  • Closures At SB Public Market?, 3,615 views
  • Pace Coming To The Big Yellow House, 3,577 views
  • Haggen Buys Local Markets, 3,574 views
  • Jane Coming To Camino Real Marketplace, 3,547 views
  • Haggen Markets To Close, 3,534 views
  • The Lure Of Marmalade, 3,482 views
  • Crazy Good Bread Space For Lease  3,452 views
  • ‘416 State’ Opening Downtown, 3,447 views
  • Kyle’s Kitchen Opens In Goleta, 3,406 views
  • Cielo Opens In Carpinteria, 3,403 views
  • The French Press Coming To Goleta, 3,363 views
  • Nuance To Replace Blue Tavern, 3,283 views
  • The Crystal Ball – Restaurants Coming Soon, 3,267 views
  • Caffe Primo To Open Downtown, 3,262 views
  • Santa Monica Seafood Becomes I’a, 3,258 views
  • The Nugget Opens On Victoria Street, 3,246 views
  • Rumor Machine – Whole Foods Talking To Sears, 3,245 views
  • Get Ready For Globe, 3,237 views
  • Dawn Patrol To Open Downtown, 3,236 views
  • Otaco Coming To IV, 3,209 views
  • Sojourner Needs Your Help, 3,203 views
  • Bourdain Sighting, 3,201 views
  • Trio Of Restaurants Coming To Camino Real Marketplace, 3,182 views
  • 805 Boba To Open Downtown, 3,179 views
  • Fresh Market To Close, 3,173 views
  • Borrello’s Coming To Carp, 3,163 views
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To finish off the year I made the annual pilgrimage to 1209 E. Quinientos Street, where the Restaurant Kid (15 months old) was able to see for the first time Santa Barbara’s best Christmas decorations and light show. His response was to say “Oh!” while pointing fingers at everything.

Also for the first time, Accidental Santa met Peter Estrada, the man who owns the home that has been the Christmas light tour grand finale for 19 years.

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Word on the street is that Union Ale at 214 State Street will close at the end of 2015 and become a new restaurant named Brewers, and have an all-new menu. I am told that Brewers is going to focus on delivery and remove most of the TVs. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



This just in from the Santa Barbara Public Market:

2016 Will Bring Exciting Change and New Business to The Santa Barbara Public Market. Market-wide beer and wine permitted; new beer garden to open in early spring.

Santa Barbara, CA. (December 2015) – As 2015 comes to an end, the Santa Barbara Public Market is enthusiastically looking towards the New Year and planning big changes for 2016. To cap off 2015, the Public Market is excited to announce that in early 2016, guests 21 and older may now enjoy wine and beer throughout the common areas of the market.   Coupled with this announcement, a new beer garden will open in early spring of 2016 replacing the space currently occupied by Foragers Pantry. Foragers Pantry is slated to close on December 28th to make room for this exciting new addition to the market.

“We are grateful to Foragers Pantry for serving as a convenient one-stop-shop for the downtown Santa Barbara neighborhood, and we want to thank the community for their continued support of the Santa Barbara Public Market,” shared Marge Cafarelli, owner of the Santa Barbara Public Market.  “We are very excited about the beer garden joining our collective, and we look forward to what’s in store for the market in 2016!”

Building off the success of Wine + Beer, the market’s popular wine shop and bar, the Public Market is looking forward to welcoming the new beer garden to its collective. Located off the entrances to the market, this new concept will bring a twist to the traditional beer garden by locating it indoors while opening up a whole new view into the hustle and bustle of the Public Market and maximizing the great window real estate that wraps around the front of the market, offering guests the best views in the house.

The new beer garden will feature an innovative tap system with both craft micro and macrobrews from around the world and the US, big screen televisions for sporting events from around the world, and a comfortable environment that will welcome any crowd, from beer enthusiasts to the downtown business community to families looking to enjoy a casual meal together. A crowd-pleasing menu will be offered, featuring small plates that are perfect for sharing with friends, in addition to favorites like Burgers, Fish Tacos, Fish & Chips and more.

Another exciting perk “on tap” for 2016 is new permitting throughout the entire Public Market that will allow guests 21 and older to enjoy beer and wine in all the common areas of the market. The Public Market has been working since the beginning to obtain a market-wide license, as it would provide guests the opportunity to roam the market, explore the various merchants, and create a convivial environment where people can socialize together wherever they please. As always, guests can order food from any merchant and take it to eat wherever they choose – but now in addition, they can order wine or beer from any merchant that offers it, and take it with them anywhere in the market.

“The Santa Barbara Public Market is a place for discovering new food, new friends and a unique new experience in Santa Barbara,” shared Cafarelli. “Indeed, exciting change is coming to the market, so stay tuned for Santa Barbara Public Market 2.0, and we look forward to sharing it with everyone!”

Over the past year, the popularity of The Kitchen (the market’s special event space) has grown tremendously, with pop-up dinners, cooking classes, community events and more. This past summer, the Public Market launched the popular “Locals Nights” happening every Monday night. Guests enjoy one-night-only merchant specials, games, prizes and pop-up dinners in The Kitchen featuring a variety of local chefs and restaurants. The Public Market continues to be a popular place downtown for locals and visitors alike to meet and gather at any time of the day to feed any cravings – whether it is for coffee or breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just to satisfy a sweet tooth!

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For the first time ever a Restaurant Guy post on Edhat has exceeded 5,000 views. That many clicks on Edhat is usually reserved for a fire or some other type of emergency. In this case the news is about Lure Fish House opening in La Cumbre Plaza.

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Will Ramsone, a local businessman, has purchased Padaro Grill at 3765 Santa Claus Lane from Brent Reichard, cofounder of the popular The Habit Burger Grill.



Mama Lu, which opened at 415 North Milpas Street in September 2009, has closed their doors.



Stone Age Restaurant has opened at 415 North Milpas Street, the former home of Mama Lu. Like its predecessor Stone Age offers Chinese cuisine.



This just in from reader Gina:

Hi John:

I was in Santa Barbara Public Market today for lunch, and noticed they had shut down the pantry/grocery store at the front of the store.  Looked like they were taking stuff off the shelves and closing the area.  Any idea if it is closing for good?  One more nail in the coffin of the public market?  Although I have to say the it was very crowded in there for the few spaces left in there.  There were a group of official-looking people with clipboards assessing the space and all unoccupied spaces, one of them possibly the owner.  It’s a shame because I own a business very close and my staff and I frequent there quite a bit for lunch, and enjoy the wine bar after work.  It would be hard for me to adjust to it shutting down for good.